July 24th, 2005

Weekly bridge column

                                    DEPT. OF DEFENSE

                                   by Stephen Rzewski

              Vul:  E-W
                                     North (dummy)
                                    ♠ K8743
                                    ♥ J10
                                    ♦ 1065
                                    ♣ K72

                     West   (you)                                     

                    ♠ 952                                             
                    ♥ 985                                           
                    ♦ A84                                           
                    ♣ 10853      

                      bidding:   E       S       W       N

                                1♥       2♦      P       P
                                dbl      P       2♥      3♦
                                 P       P       P    
		                 opening lead:  ♥ 5                

	Often when you are defending, the opponents are typically playing with the 
preponderance of high-card strength, and your assets may be meager.  Under such 
circumstances, one can easily lose interest and concentration.  It may be essential,
however, to focus on the few values you have and try to make the most of them.

	Today’s hand came from a Regional tournament in Sturbridge. Imagine yourself 
defending with the West hand on the auction shown, and the play starts:

	    trick #1:  ♥5 from you, 10 from dummy, queen from partner, ace from 
            trick #2:  ♥ 3 from declarer, 9 from you, jack, king from partner.
            trick #3:  ♥ 7 from partner, 4 from declarer, 8 from you, ♦5 (ruff) from 
            trick #4:  ♦ 6 from dummy, 3 from partner, jack from declarer, and you 

            How do you plan the defense from here?  Decide before reading on.

	   *          *         *         *         *         *         *  

        The full deal:


                                         ♠ K8743
                                         ♥ J10
                                         ♦ 1065
                                         ♣ K72

                     West                                   East

                    ♠ 952                                  ♠ AQ10
                    ♥ 985                                  ♥ KQ762
                    ♦ A84                                  ♦ Q3
                    ♣ 10853                                ♣ J64


                                         ♠ J6
                                         ♥ A43
                                         ♦ KJ972
                                         ♣ AQ9

                You must duck your ace of diamonds.  Partner’s play of the third 
heart, encouraging the ruff in dummy, and the play of the trumps suggests that 
declarer’s suit is broken and that partner may have the queen.  If so, your 8-spot 
may have some potential in a trump promotion, but not as long as the 10 is in dummy.
Ducking the ace will also help to clarify the hand generally, as you will have a 
better idea of the layout of the hand based on declarer’s next play:  whether or not 
the trump suit is broken or solid, where partner’s black-suit values lie, and so 
forth.  At the table, declarer did in fact play a club to dummy’s king, then led the 
10 of diamonds:  queen from partner, king from declarer, ace from your hand, leaving 
the following:  

                                        ♠ K8743
                                        ♥ -----
                                        ♦ -----
                                        ♣ 72
                  ♠ 952                                     ♠ AQ10
                  ♥ -----                                   ♥ 62
                  ♦ 8                                       ♦ -----
                  ♣ 1085                                    ♣ J6
                                       ♠ J6
                                       ♥ -----
                                       ♦ 972
                                       ♣ AQ

	It is now easy for you to lead a spade, on which declarer plays low from 
dummy, and partner wins the queen.  Partner plays a heart (alternatively, partner 
could have cashed a 2nd spade first), and declarer is cooked.  At the table, declarer 
discarded her remaining spade loser, but this was easily countered with a discard 
from your hand.  Partner, still on lead, continued with his last heart, and your 8 of 
diamonds is promoted to the setting trick.  If declarer ruffs high, you simply 
discard; if declarer ruffs low, you overruff.

	Notice that if you had won the ace of diamonds on the first lead of the suit, 
the trump promotion would not have been achieved.   Say you had chosen to win the 4th 
trick and then led a spade to partner, who could take two tricks in that suit with 
the ace and queen.  The defense would then have been finished.  A heart play from 
partner would have done no good, as declarer could ruff low, and if you overruffed 
with your 8, dummy would be able to capture that trick with the 10, which would still 
be unplayed at that point.  Declarer would then simply get back to her hand and draw 
the remaining trumps with the king, making her contract.